Planters is suspending a Super Bowl ad campaign centered around the death of its iconic mascot Mr. Peanut out of respect for the families of Kobe Bryant and the eight other people who died Sunday in a helicopter crash.
“We are saddened by this weekend’s news and Planters has paused all campaign activities, including paid media, and will evaluate next steps through a lens of sensitivity to those impacted by this tragedy,” the snack food brand said in a statement on Monday.
Last week, Planters released an ad showing Mr. Peanut driving his Nutmobile off a cliff and then saving the lives of celebrity pals Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh (“Veep”). The company also asked fans to pay their respects by using the hashtag #RIPeanut.
Although the campaign attracted viral attention, AdAge reports that some wondered whether killing off its famous spokesnut was the right strategy for the brand.
While the overall campaign has now been suspended, Planters still plans to run a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl’s third quarter, according to Fox Business.
Public relations crisis expert Jessa Moore would have recommended that Planters pull the whole thing, even though Super Bowl commercials can cost upwards of $5.6 million.
“We have a huge divide between what people deem appropriate,” Moore told HuffPost. “I would have pulled. It’s deeply unfortunate and completely circumstantial and it’s not related, but people also are just primed right now to find sensitivities.”
“Brands are being super, super cautious,” she added. “There is a backlash effect that many find unpredictable.”
But some Twitter users questioned the reasoning behind Planters’ latest move.